Preventing Patient Entrapment in Beds
FAQ [Health Devices Mar 1998;27(3):115-6]
How can healthcare facilities minimize
patient entrapment hazards associated with hospital beds?
Patient entrapment has been reported to occur
1) between the bars of an individual siderail, 2) in the space between split
siderails, 3) between the siderail and the mattress, or 4) between the mattress
and the headboard or footboard. In August 1995, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) issued a Safety Alert(1) that provided recommendations to
minimize the entrapment risk. At FDA's request, ECRI reviewed a draft of that
Alert and commented extensively before it was published. The recommendations of
FDA and ECRI are summarized as follows:
- Inspect all hospital bed frames, siderails, and
mattresses as part of a regular maintenance program to identify possible
areas of entrapment. The alignment of those components should be such that
no gap is wide enough to entrap a patient's head or body. Be aware that gaps
can be created by movement or compression of the mattress caused by weight,
patient movement, or bed position.
- Not all siderails, mattresses, and bed frames are
interchangeable. If you have, or plan to purchase, siderails or mattresses
other than those specified by the bed manufacturer, be sure they are
compatible with your existing beds.
- Ensure that all siderails are installed according to
- Consider implementing additional safety procedures
(e.g., protective barriers to close off open spaces) for patients at
particular risk for entrapment (e.g., elderly patients, patients with
altered mental status or general restlessness).
- Siderails are not restraints; do not use or rely on
siderails to confine or restrain a patient.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. FDA safety alert:
Entrapment hazards with hospital bed side rails [letter]. 1995 Aug
- Beds [10-342]
- Bedrails [10-341]